Lucknow: Farmers from Western Uttar Pradesh and adjacent areas are all set to participate in the proposed tractor parade on January 26, Republic Day. However, the police and the administration have installed CCTV cameras along the main routes of the rally to keep a close vigil on the movement of marching farmers.
A large number of farmers’ groups from Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Bijnor, Baghpat, Bulandshahar, Shamli, Agra, Lakhimpur Kheri, and Sitapur etc have started their tractor march towards Delhi for the proposed parade of farmers on Republic Day. Highways here have been taken over by tractors with farmers heading towards their common destination.
A non-ending line of a convoy of tractor-trolleys was on the highways on Monday at the time of publishing this report. Many have already left for Delhi while some will leave tonight, said Dharmendra Malik, spokesperson of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), asserting that over 35 thousand farmers would reach the national capital on Tuesday from Uttar Pradesh alone.
The farmers' leaders claimed that meanwhile, district administrations have been sending notices to farmers and mounting pressure on them to not participate in the rallies citing COVID-19 norms and Section 144 of the CrPC. But they said farmers will reach Delhi border to extend solidarity with those agitating there for nearly two months.
BKU leader Rakesh Tikait, who is leading the agitation against the three farm laws at Ghazipur border, has asked the farmers approaching towards Delhi to continue their movement and if need be, they should remove all hurdles in the way.
Tikait also has warned the UP district administrations not to prevent the farmers from going to Delhi. The state government and district officials would be responsible in case there is a clash, he said.
Meanwhile, BKU leader Naresh Chaudhary flagged off around 2,000 tractors from Mawana village in Meerut district on Sunday and all of them reached at Ghazipur border by late night on the same day. An equal number of tractors from Meerut district would join the parade on January 26, asserted Chaudhary.
According to Chaudhary, the magnitude of the participation of farmers from Western UP has forced the Yogi Adityanath-led government to take the decision of not stopping them from marching towards Delhi for tractor parade. On the contrary, action against farmers was taken by the police when the agitation had started. In Sambhal district, the sub-divisional magistrate had issued notices of Rs 50,000 to farmers, which they later withdrew, said the farmer leader.
UP POLICE "HOUSE ARREST" FARMER LEADERS
To prevent farmers from participating in tractor parade in Delhi, the Uttar Pradesh government allegedly put under "house arrest" hundreds of farmers; notices have been served to create fear psychosis among farmers, leaders say. The UP police have also allegedly used excessive force farmers and illegally detained them.
According to farmers, the police are “preventing” them from going to Delhi in the name of the pandemic; cops are also blocking the tractors by putting barricades on the roads and farmers have been stopped from getting diesel from petrol pumps. The agitating farmers asked that when the Centre has duly given permission to hold a tractor rally in Delhi, then why were farmers in Uttar Pradesh allegedly being barred from joining the rally on the border or holding a rally locally.
According to several media reports, around 100 farmers from Agra, 150 from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency Varanasi, 80 farmers from Bijnor and other districts have been allegedly put under house arrest on Sunday.
Rajveer Lawaniya, Agra district president of BKU, who had planned to leave for Ghazipur border with around 25 tractors and 400 farmers on Sunday morning, was allegedly put under house arrest by the local police.
“If Agra police think they can prevent me from joining the tractor parade by making house arrest then they are highly mistaken. Police will not be able to stop hundreds of farmers from Agra to reach Delhi border," Lawaniya told NewsClick, adding that if the police do not allow them to go to Delhi by tractor, then they will go by car or bike but they will reach as it is a “do or die” situation for them.
Talking about the farmers' parade, he further said that it will be a historic moment and farmers from Agra will mark their strong presence in Delhi on January 26.
Narrating police behaviour towards farmers in Western UP, state BKU youth wing president Digambar Singh, who reached Ghazipur border on Sunday evening along with several farmers from the region, said, "Police are leaving no stone unturned, threatening farmers and preventing them from taking part in the parade. Police stopped us too, but we managed to reach Ghazipur border. It’s the right of every Indian to take part in the tractor parade on Republic Day. How can any government or state machinery stop us?” asked Singh.
Meanwhile, a poster is doing rounds on social media that claimed Yogi Adityanath has reportedly asked supply officers in all districts to not provide diesel to the farmers protesting against the three agriculture laws. A letter issued by the Suhwal police station in Ghazipur stated a “high alert” has been issued in UP in view of the proposed January 26 ‘tractor parade’.
However, when NewsClick approached the authority, they claimed they have withdrawn the alert.